Plunging oil prices and the supermarket price war might be bad for the businesses involved – but for consumers, the overall effect has been a massive positive. In fact, new research has suggested UK households' total wealth increased by £1.5 trillion to £9 trillion last year. That's a rise of just under 20 per cent.
The research, by Lloyds Private Banking, showed households' wealth stood at £3.9 trillion, or £326,414, in 2004. It's increased by 75 per cent – or £126,572 per household, since then. That's faster than the retail price index, which is up 31 per cent, and has "significantly outpaced" growth in disposable income, which has risen 42 per cent.
Not surprisingly, once of the primary driving forces behind this jump was rocketing house prices, which contributed an estimated £452bn to the overall increase in wealth. Meanwhile, financial assets – that's deposits in banks and building societies, government bonds, shares in companies, life assurance and pensions – pushed up households' wealth by a cool £996bn – meaning more than two-thirds of the rise was accounted for by financial assets. In total, they've doubled in value from £2.9 trillion in 2004 to £5.5 trillion now.
What's interesting, though, is that the two have swapped places – in 2004, housing accounted for 45 per cent of all wealth. That's now fallen to 39 per cent, while the proportion accounted for by financial assets has risen – from 55 per cent in 2005 to 61 per cent now. Which suggests households may have better access to their wealth.
Markus Stalmann, Lloyds' chief investment officer, said:
"A booming housing market up to 2007 coupled with the rising value of households' financial assets held and a growing number of older households are the key drivers.”